The Hidden Letters by Lorna Cook is an emotional story of forbidden love set in Cornwall during the 1940s. I read Cook’s The Girl from the Island in 2021 and loved it to bits. Am thrilled that this book lived up to my expectations.
The story begins at Pencallick House in Cornwall, where Cordelia Carr-Lyons lives with her family. The family estate set amidst sprawling grounds has an abundance of staff to take care of the house and the garden. Issac, a landscape architect, and his brother David work in the gardens. With the threat of war looming closer, there is a sense of fear and insecurity in the air. Even though Cordelia is Issac’s employer, mutual respect for each other brings them closer. And before they realise it, they are tied together by the beautiful bond of love.
Sadly, the lovers are forced to part soon as all the young men of Cornwall leave to join the armed forces. He writes to her from the battlefields of Europe. Thus, begins a series of exchanges of letters. Not just between the lead pair, but also between Cordelia and other characters, like Edwin, Margaret, and Tabitha.
Unlike most historical fiction novels, this story is set in a single timeline and revolves around a few characters. The language and character sketch are perfectly suited for the setting.
The first part of the story is a build-up of the romance but unfortunately, it is very slow. I struggled through it. Most of the story, especially the second part, is in an epistolary form. The letters are an honest portrayal of the war and its impact on people. I loved the second half of the book much more than the first.
It was heartwarming witnessing Cordelia grow as an individual through the pages. Her transformation is remarkable and touched my heart. Tabitha is my other favourite character in this book.
Cook delves into the class divide in England, the strain of war on people, strict censorship of letters, and parental control and expectations. Her descriptive writing took me to Cornwall, where I walked in the garden and swam in the lake, and even went to war-torn Europe and witnessed the heartbreaking devastation.
The Hidden Letters is an engrossing and emotional narration. The well-developed characters, beautiful narration, and unexpected twists made this a memorable experience.
Thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest review. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys WW1 romance stories.
Wordsopedia Rating 4.5/5
|Title: The Hidden Letters
|Author: Lorna Cook
|Publisher: Avon Books
|Publication date: March 2, 2023
|Genre: Fiction—Historical Romance
|No. of Pages: 400
Buy your copy here on Amazon
About the author
Lorna Cook is the author of The Girl From the Island, The Forbidden Promise and the Kindle Number 1 Bestseller ‘The Forgotten Village’, which was her debut novel, staying in the Kindle Top 100 for four months. It has sold over 150,000 copies, has eleven overseas/foreign language editions, won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the RNA Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers.
Get in touch with the author on her website.